Hoyer: Health Bill Could Be Finished in 15 Days

Posted January 19, 2010 at 12:03pm

With the fate of health care reform hinging on the outcome of Tuesday’s special election to fill the Massachusetts Senate seat, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) is not foreclosing on any options to pull the package across the finish line.

And the playbook apparently still includes pushing a compromise measure through both chambers before Republican state Sen. Scott Brown gets seated, should he pull off a win. Hoyer on Tuesday confirmed it is feasible for Democrats to wrap work on the package in the next 15 days, before the deadline for the Massachusetts secretary of state to certify the election results.

While carefully sidestepping speculation about the majority’s preferred path on health care if their candidate, Bay State Attorney General Martha Coakley (D), comes up short in the special election — which would end their filibuster-proof majority in the Senate — Hoyer also said that “clearly, the Senate bill is better than nothing.— The White House and Senate Democratic leaders are floating the possibility of the House simply adopting the $871 billion Senate-passed measure, with the understanding that lawmakers would then move changes through the reconciliation process to bring it closer to the House version.

“Our objective is to get agreement and not to take the Senate bill or the House bill but to come to an agreement, as is normal legislative process,— Hoyer told reporters Tuesday at his weekly press conference.